Lamb, Emily (d. 1869)

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Lamb, Emily (d. 1869)

Countess of Cowper and Shaftesbury. Name variations: Emily Lamb; Lady Palmerston; Viscountess Palmerston; Emily Cowper. Born Emily Lamb; died in 1869; daughter of Peniston Lamb, 1st viscount Melbourne, and Lady Elizabeth Melbourne (d. 1818); sister of William Lamb, 2nd Lord Melbourne (1777–1848), and George Lamb (1784–1834, a politician and writer); sister-in-law of Caroline Lamb; married Lord Cowper of Althorps, 5th earl of Cowper, on July 20, 1805 (died, June 21, 1837); married Henry John Temple, 3rd Viscount Palmerston (British prime minister), on December 16, 1839 (died 1865); children: (with Cowper) Emily Cowper; Fanny Cowper; Ford-wich Cowper.

The lovely and warm-hearted Emily Lamb, youngest daughter and one of six children of Lady Elizabeth Melbourne and Preston Lamb, grew up with the Cavendishes and the Ponsonbys in the Devonshire House set, and thus became part of English Whig Society. In July 1805, Emily married the somewhat dull but very wealthy Lord Cowper of Althorps. Her brother William Lamb, 2nd lord Melbourne, was married around the same time to Caroline (Ponsonby) Lamb , and while Emily was devoted to her brother, she had little affection for her tempestuous sister-in-law. In fact, she spent a good deal of time trying to protect her brother from Caroline's excesses, since William seemed reluctant to take any positive action himself. Emily's own husband, by at least one account, was less than attentive, but Emily found distractions in her children and in her friendship with the secretary-at-war, Lord Palmerston, who would later become the liberal prime minister. Called "Cupid" because of his twinkling eyes and jovial manner, Palmerston would become Emily's second husband in 1839, following Lord Cowper's death.

Emily Lamb was one of the foremost political hostesses of her day, and as a member of a political family and the intimate friend and later wife of Lord Palmerston, she was privy to the intrigues of the inner circle of the Whig Party. Her correspondence, the bulk of which was the property of Edwina Ashley Mountbatten , was edited and published in 1957 by Tresham Lever (The Letters of Lady Palmerston) and provides a vivid account of English life and politics from the time of King George IV through the middle years of Queen Victoria 's reign.


Lever, Tresham. The Letters of Lady Palmerston. London: John Murray, 1957.

suggested reading:

Blyth, Henry. Caro, The Fatal Passion: The Life of Caroline Lamb. NY: Coward-McCann, 1972.